fri 07/08/2020

CD: Madeleine Peyroux - Anthem | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Madeleine Peyroux - Anthem

CD: Madeleine Peyroux - Anthem

Sensual vocals hit the spot

A touch of French-inflected class

Peyroux made her name by channelling the sultry sensuality and soul of Billie Holiday and breathing new life into well-known songs written by others - notably Elliott Smith and Leonard Cohen.She still brings enchantment to covers, but has increasingly found her own distinctive voice, without losing that element of sensual magic - those long drawn-out notes - inherited from the great Lady Day.

Her new album is drawn strongly together by impeccable arrangements and production, studio expertise and inspiration that provides the album with welcome variety, as well as a touch of melancholy that colours and brings coherence to the whole.

There are hints of blues, jazz and cool jazz-rock, with a relaxed swing that suits Peyroux’s exquisitely timed phrasing: this works particularly well on “Honey Party” a gentle Afro-Cuban tune with an updated 1950s feel. The warm swirling tones of the Hammond B organ are matched by other keyboards and guitars, as well as by solos from sax and trumpet for the jazzier tracks, and harmonica and duduk for others.

She brings all the necessary depth and intensity to the title track, one of Leonard Cohen’s masterpieces: there is a beautiful and stirring short solo on the Armenian instrument, its haunting and breathy tone a perfectly-judged match for Peyroux’s sultry voice. Touches like these, as well as the well-measured amount of reverb that graces much of the album, a subtle echo that enhances mood as well as emotional depth. “Ghosts of Tomorrow” evokes a dimly-lit bar late at night, and the sadness that comes after too many drinks, just on the tasteful side of sentimental. Peyroux has always been good at sadness, and with “We Might as Well Dance”, she digs deep into the sorrow that comes with the end of an affair: there is regret and resignation here. If you happen to be feeling blue, this will music will speak to you, truly, deeply.

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